New routes for American & United, on-time stats, IATA’s 2012 forecast, passenger protection rules, Qantas news and Expedia extends agreement

In other airline, hotel and travel industry news this week…

  • United Airlines announced they will add a segment onto the existing Washington Dulles to Dubai flight and continue to Doha, Qatar beginning May 1, 2012. The news release claims the flights will be operated with United’s International Premium Travel Experience Boeing 777s, but there’s still always a risk of getting an unconverted bird until all 777s have been refitted.
  • American Eagle has been selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin daily service from Chicago O’Hare to both Sioux City and Waterloo, Iowa. It’s a part of the Essential Air Service program where the government subsidizes airlines to serve certain routes to smaller communities that would otherwise be unprofitable to fly. The carrier is planning to begin flights next spring using Embraer regional jets.
  • Virgin America’s size will now warrant the carrier to report on-time data for its flights to the DOT in 2012. ExpressJet Airlines will also be required to do the same, but they’ve been doing so voluntarily this year. Meanwhile, Atlantic Southeast and Mesa no longer have to report the stats, but Mesa says they’ll continue to report on a voluntary basis.
  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) lowered its 2012 profit forecast for global airlines by nearly 29% this week. European carriers are expected to lose a collective $600 million next year in part due to the meltdown of the Euro. Carriers in North America are expected to post $2.1 billion in profits.
  • Airlines are asking the DOT to delay part of the new passenger protection rules that are scheduled to take effect January 24, 2012. Many carriers issued sworn affidavits saying they need at least another year to comply with the rule related to baggage fees and allowances on multi-carrier itineraries. Current system constraints and the inability to access a passenger’s previous flight from another carrier on the same itinerary are causing the headaches for IT staff.
  • The Australian Labor Party is backing Qantas unions in their desire to keep the airline Australian-owned and controlled. Legislation is being considered to strengthen the Qantas Sales Act that will “keep the majority ownership, operation and governance of (Australian) airlines in Australia.” A carrier spokeswoman warned, “Any proposed plans to change the act that restricts Qantas from doing business will not protect Australian jobs.”
  • Expedia and United Airlines have extended their agreement for another multi-year term. While not confirmed, the news blurb about it sounds like Expedia might soon be able to sell Economy Plus seats and other ancillary products. One of Expedia’s brands, Travelscape, is the current provider of hotel listings on

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